When you entered into your marriage, you may have been decades away from retirement. In fact, when your divorce is filed, you may still be years or decades away from retirement, or you may be heading into a divorce and retirement at the same time. No matter when your divorce begins, you may wonder if you are entitled to the Social Security benefits from a spouse that you have divorced. The short answer is, maybe. It all depends on your situation and when you actually retire.

Basic Requirements

While Social Security benefits are not determined by the state in which you live, the Social Security Administration does have a few basic requirements in order to receive benefits from an ex-spouse’s earnings:

  • You must have been married to that spouse for at least 10 years. If you were married less than 10 years, you cannot collect social security retirement benefits.
  • You must be single when you file for Social Security. If you have been married to more than one spouse, you must be divorced at the time of filing. (Interestingly, if you have been married to more than one spouse for over 10 years each, you can choose either spouse from whom to collect.) You cannot collect from both ex-spouses. Additionally, the amount you receive from an ex-spouse will not affect that person’s ability or amount he/she collects when he/she retires.
  • You must be of age to collect Social Security. The age of your ex-spouse does not matter; you must be of proper age to receive benefits.
  • Your benefits must calculate out to less than your ex-spouse’s. The amount of benefits that you would receive from social security, based on your own earnings, must be lower than the amount you would receive from the ex-spouse’s earnings.

If you meet all four of the above requirements, you may be eligible to receive social security retirement benefits from an ex-spouse. Additionally, please be advised that by receiving the benefits of a spouse or ex-spouse, you will only receive 50% of the amount that the person earning the benefit would receive.

What Does Your Divorce Decree Say?

Lastly, you can receive the Social Security retirement benefits of an ex-spouse in addition to the retirement benefits that are allotted to you in a divorce decree. Since these benefits do not affect your ex-spouse’s benefits from the Social Security Administration, you may receive these in addition to any pension, IRA, or 401K benefits you received in your divorce decree.

Seek Legal Guidance

Retirement benefits may not be on the top of your mind when you are discussing and wading through your divorce, but it is still a benefit that you need to keep in mind to make sure that you receive your due amount over the course of the rest of your life. The experienced family law attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum can guide you through your divorce to make sure you maximize the amount due to you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation regarding social security retirement benefits, or any other questions you may have regarding your divorce.